Frazer Axle Grease Self-framed Advertising Sign, ca. 1900

Value (2010) | $4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail

From the mid '30s, my father worked for the Billings Hardware Company until the late '70s, when he retired. And that's where he got it. My father was planning to come to Roadshow and bring this. He unfortunately died very suddenly, although peacefully, at the end of April. So I flew to Billings and spent the entire morning looking through the garage and the basement. And finally I found it under the bed. So, it was meant to be here.

Well, it is an important sign. It's an advertising sign for Frazer Axle Grease. The key things about this sign are, one, its rarity. But secondly, its rarity in this condition. This is what's called a self-framed sign. In other words, the image continues off of the central scene into a simulated frame. The frame then wraps around a wood stretcher on the back. And this one dates from around the turn of the century. It was made by the Meek Company in Coshocton, Ohio. The condition is off the charts. We found several similar signs selling at auction, but none came anywhere close to this condition. There's no pitting, there's no rust, there's very minor discoloration. There's very minor scratching. It is the way you really want to find a wonderful old advertising sign like this. And also the fact that it tells a funny story. You have the gentleman on one side who's saying, "If I had used Frazer axle grease, I wouldn't have had this trouble." And his friend's saying, "Don't worry about that, Frazer axle grease will solve all your problems." It tells a great story. All of those things combined to equal, I think, a retail value on this sign easily of $4,000 to $5,000. And I hope that that would have made your father happy had he known that.

I'm sure it would have made him happy. It would have made him very happy.

Appraisal Details

Mark F. Moran Appraisals of Antiques & Fine Art
Iola, WI
Appraised value (2010)
$4,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
Billings, MT (June 26, 2010)
Metal , Wood

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.